PV Solar UK boss on making energy greener
Formed in 2009 PV Solar UK hopes to persuade people to invest in putting photovoltaic (PV) solar panels on their roof. The Cambuslang company looked at how Germany and other European countries had grown their PV industry since the introduction of feed in tariffs (FiT) guaranteeing income from energy supply. Here director Doug Wilkie tells us how the business is growing beyond Glasgow.
What do you do?
We sell, design and install Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Panel Systems. They are generally installed on domestic roofs and generate electricity from daylight. The FIT means that people installing PV Solar panels are paid by their power supplier for the electricity their panels generate, they can then use that electricity free of charge or export the unused electricity back to the grid for further income.
Where did the funding come from and which organisations have supported the business?
The business was funded by an overdraft facility provided from the Royal Bank of Scotland and directors equity. We were initially supported by Business Gateway and have now been passed onto the Scottish Enterprise high growth team.
Who are the key people in the business?
The business is driven by its working directors and department managers; however, we value the efforts of every member of our 50-strong team.
What is unique about what the company does? What has been the single biggest investment?
I believe what makes our business unique within our industry, is our investment in degree qualified project engineers who computer-simulate every job prior to installation, this optimises the performance of each system.
Has there been a key moment or turning point?
The most obvious turning point for our business was the introduction of the “Feed in Tariff” by the UK Government in April 2010.
What is the business plan and how does the company intend to grow?
We are currently in talks with major investors who want to install PV systems onto domestic houses free of charge. This would mean the homeowner gets as much electricity from the system as they can use free of charge and the investor collects the FIT for the next 25 years.
How does the company use technology and IT?
Yes, we have developed our own bespoke software management system that allows us to monitor the sales, installation, stock control and sales ledger functions. We also employ simulation software that allows us to accurately predict the performance of the system and we have recently adopted a remote monitoring software system that allows us to monitor the actual performance of each system we install on an hourly basis.
Who are your key customers/what are your key markets?
Our key customers are home owners, ideally with a south facing roof.
Does the company have international sales or does it intend to grow internationally?
No, if anything we are well behind Europe in the adoption of PV solar systems.
What has been the best achievement so far?
Passing our 2000th installation.
What has been the biggest hurdle which has been overcome?
The biggest hurdle we have overcome is managing rapid growth.
What will the next 12 months hold?
A lot more hard work! If the investment comes in, soon we will double the size of our business.
Where do you want the business to be in 10 years time?
We would like to become the largest installer of domestic renewable energy systems in the UK.
If you were given £1 million to invest in the company how would you use it?
By doing more of the same, and buying more stock.
What's the best part of running a business?
Achieving success is the best part of running a business.